Friday, December 26, 2008

Despite a soaking from Fay, Florida faces drought for 2009

Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida should brace for another drought in 2009. The Climate Prediction Center shows a big part of Florida -- from near Tallahassee to Lake Okeechobee -- will be withering in a dry spell by early spring. The federal agency's experts think sparse rainfall will persist across much of the Southeast until late spring. It would be the state's fourth year in a row for drought, and the eighth this decade.

State officials are standing by with response plans that include increasingly strict restrictions on water use. "The outlook through May isn't particularly good," said hydrologist Tom Mirti at the St. Johns River Water Management District in Palatka.

The Orlando area might be parched now if it weren't for a taste in August of the record-setting downpours of Tropical Storm Fay. Most of Florida was doused by Fay's rains, especially Fort Pierce, Melbourne and southwest Volusia County, where neighborhoods were flooded by as much as 2 feet of rainfall. But the region that Fay swerved around -- the greater Tampa Bay area -- is now worried about its shrinking supply of drinking water.

Dave Bracciano, demand-management coordinator at Tampa Bay Water, said Fay and other tropical storms dumped only about an inch of moisture in the area. The C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, a key source of water, is critically low. An artificial lake in Hillsborough County fed by the Alafia and Hillsborough rivers, the reservoir should be holding 6 billion to 7 billion gallons but has less than half that much…

Egret on a hot tin roof in Key West, Florida, shot by Ianaré Sévi, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

1 comment:

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